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Entertainment & Arts

‘NCIS’ investigators succeed in a TV ratings pursuit

Sean Murray, left, Emily Wickersham and Mark Harmon in “NCIS” on CBS.
The CBS drama “NCIS” returned to the top of the ratings with Sean Murray, left, Emily Wickersham and Mark Harmon.
(Edward Chen / CBS)

“NCIS” became the first recorded program to be the highest-rated program during any of the 21 weeks so far in the 2019-20 prime-time television season.

NFL games have been the highest-rated programs 16 of the first 20 weeks. Game 7 of the World Series, Fox NFL coverage, the Grammys and the Oscars were the highest-rated programs the other four weeks.

“NCIS” averaged 11.761 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Wednesday by Nielsen. No other program averaged more than 9 million viewers for the week.

“FBI,” which followed “NCIS,” was second among broadcast and cable programs airing between Feb. 10 and Sunday, averaging 8.935 million viewers.

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Both of the week’s premieres on broadcast networks drew lackluster responses from viewers. ABC’s prison-courtroom drama “For Life” was fourth in its 10-11 p.m. time slot Feb. 11 and 66th for the week, averaging 3.151 million viewers. The Fox animated comedy “Duncanville” was 102nd among broadcast programs, averaging 1.518 million viewers. Its overall rank was not available.

CBS was the highest-rated network for the sixth time this season, averaging 6.02 million viewers. It had five of the week’s top eight programs, including “Young Sheldon,” the highest-rated comedy, averaging 8.901 million viewers to finish third overall.

ABC was second, averaging 4.13 million viewers, followed by NBC, which averaged 3.95 million viewers, Fox News Channel, which averaged 3.146 million viewers, and Fox, which averaged 2.73 million viewers for its 16 hours of programming, its second consecutive fourth-place finish among the broadcast networks following Super Bowl LIV.

CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox News Channel each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.

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The season premiere of “American Idol” was ABC’s most-watched program, finishing eighth, averaging 8.073 million viewers, 6.7% less than last year’s season premiere, which averaged 8.653 million viewers.

Viewership for most forms of programming has decreased in recent years, in part because of competition from streaming programs, including streams of the same programs shown on traditional television.

Two shows from NBC’s “Chicago” franchise were that network’s highest-rated programs. “Chicago Fire” was fourth for the week, averaging 8.289 million viewers. “Chicago Med,” which preceded “Chicago Fire,” was fifth for the week, with 8.178 million viewers.

“The Masked Singer” was Fox’s highest ranked program, 13th for the week, averaging 6.644 million viewers.

The TNT telecast of the NBA All-Star Game topped the cable rankings, averaging 6.062 million viewers. The total viewership, including the simulcast on TBS, averaged 7.3 million viewers, 8% more than last year.

The game included tributes to the late Lakers star Kobe Bryant and format changes, including having the game end when the leading team reached the final target score, the leading team’s total cumulative score through three quarters plus 24, the number Bryant wore during the final 10 seasons of his NBA career. The fourth quarter aired without commercial interruptions.

Fox News Channel was the highest-rated cable network for the fourth consecutive week, averaging 3.146 million viewers. It had each of the week’s 11 top ranked cable programs behind TNT’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Game and NBA All-Star Saturday Night.

TNT was second for the week, averaging 2.366 million viewers, and MSNBC third, averaging 1.635 million.


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